As Gwen Stefani said during the Bamboozle festival's Sunday closer, this was No Doubt's "second show in five fucking yeeeeeeears." And the intrepid band made sure their headlining set picked up exactly where they left off. This was the return of No Doubt the Billboard-dominating party band, not the continuing adventures of Gwen Stefani, globe-trotting pop star and fashion mogul. Stefani was looking as punky and spunky as she was in 1997: tight ponytail, trademark sleeveless white shirt and some chains flopping by her sides. With gusto, she bounced around, skanked like a ragdoll, banged her head, flailed her arms and basically ran around like a white blur straight through opening tracks "Spiderwebs," "Hella Good" and "Bathwater." Somehow she never appeared out of breath.
The band hammered away with a set made up exclusively of their voluminous catalog of hit singles — excepting a quick detour into Tragic Kingdom album track "Different People" and a lively cover of the Skatalites 1964 first-wave ska classic "The Guns Of Navarone." "Underneath It All" was greeted with a shimmy and "Excuse Me Mr." got a radical makeover, slowed down and skanked up until it sounded like the English Beat.
Stefani seemed almost perversely excited to be performing onstage with a band again, spending the show running out into the crowd, pointing out audience members she recognized from the previous night's Atlantic City warm-up show, and screaming "I fucking love this song" before launching into their hit cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life." The reason she's so excited, she intimated, was because touring gives No Doubt inspiration to record music — so expect the long-awaited follow-up to 2001's Rock Steady sooner than later. After nine very sultry push-ups and launching herself up the scaffolding for "Just A Girl," the band gave the audience a sneak peek of their drum-heavy cover of Adam & The Ants' "Stand And Deliver," which they'll be performing on an episode of Gossip Girl on May 11th.
Elsewhere at Bamboozle, other bands were similarly ecstatic, or as best they could be under a drippy, grey New Jersey sky. Taking Back Sunday stalked the stage like the classic rock stars they are destined to become one day, even lightheartedly complaining about the number of "f-bombs" the other bands lobbed at the rain-soaked crowd. Adding to the bravado of their giant choruses, lead singer Adam Lazzara swung his microphone in impossibly huge circles. Like Stefani, he ended up climbing the scaffolding as well, but made it maybe a good 15 feet higher — a harrowing height which he topped off by hanging from his knees.
Also currently attempting a radio takeover, political punks Rise Against got their Bono on, lead singer Tim McIlrath standing on the drum riser and chanting "Rise! Rise! Rise!" Rooted in hardcore punk, the band demanded two competing circle pits and playing the occasional Descendents-styled burner. But they've picked up enough arena rock tricks to take a mostly acoustic breather for "Hero Of War," off Appeal To Reason. Pretty interesting to see a bunch of cigarette lighters raised triumphantly for a mostly straightedge band.
Booger-punks Sum 41 had one of the biggest crowds of the day, despite comedian Joe DeRosa's quip, "Sum 41? I thought those fucking douchebags died in 1996." Frontman Deryck Whibley channeled his best Billie Joe Armstrong, pointing everywhere, rambling over rhythm section runoff and leaping all around when the time was right.
The crowd shrunk to a fraction of the size for the act that followed — Disney Channel songstress Demi Lovato — but was no less passionate. Lovato's voice, a crystal-clear waver that soared into distant parts of the parking lot was a sharp detour from Sum 41's nasal roar — and she knew it. "I was a little nervous because this is not my usual crowd," she said, "but you guys have been so good to me." As she burst into the punky "Get Back," a giddy sort-of-mosh-pit broke out among some of the younger fans in attendance, full of smiles and bouncing and joy. The face on of one of the few crowd-surfers in attendance was, justifiably, one of pure surprise.
No Doubt set list
"Underneath It All"
"Excuse Me Mr."
"Simple Kind Of Life"
"Guns Of Navarone" (The Skatalites)
"It's My Life" (Talk Talk)
"Just A Girl"
"Stand And Deliver" (Adam & The Ants)